Eight Words with Incredibly Beautiful Meanings

A selection of scrabble letters

We are so used to using colloquial, simple words, that we sometimes forget to appreciate the beauties embedded in the English language—words that we rarely use, but which have meanings that are incredibly profound and eye-opening. That bestow us with new perspectives, and make us more aware of the unique world we live in…

8. Pareidolia: the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful, image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern

The shapes we see in clouds, the familiarity we find in otherwise meaningless patterns. That moment when the clouds were shaped like a wispy feather, when the stitches on her skin seemed to spell out her name, when the flower petals resembled his face. When alone in nature, among the trees and soil, meaning seems to sprout from undiscovered crannies—letting us know that we’re never truly alone, and that our essence is infused in the nooks of nature.

It looks unspectacular at first. But when examined from a different perspective, we see sense and awareness bloom forth—in the motifs of a human face, an instrument, a pair of glasses, a butterfly wing… Even in space, there have been sightings of faces and creatures embedded among the celestial dust. And although the observation can be a bit perturbing, it’s comforting at the same time—for it reminds us that humanity, isolated as it is, is watched over by a benign presence.

7. Petrichor: A pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather

An earthy fragrance, suffusing itself into the surrounding foliage. After the violent downpour, during which we could only focus on the falling droplets and crashing thunder, we finally begin to notice the scent. But not of a perfume, or baked cookies, or a new blouse… it is something much more natural, more magical. There is a scientific reason behind its existence, certainly—but instead, its essence feels mystical, preternatural. Behind the unyielding wall of science, there is always something more romantic.

Spirits of petrichor waft up from the verdant grass, entering our systems—a gratifying feast for our senses. It is impossible to describe this tantalizing aroma through words. So instead, amble outside after a cascade, close your eyes and ears, and give your nose free reins. Only then will you discover the magical scents lingering outside your house, itching to be noticed, only to be neglected by people who spray themselves with jasmine perfumes and rosy fragrances.

6. Phosphene: a luminous image produced by mechanical stimulation of the retina, as by pressure applied to the eyeball by the finger when the lid is closed.

I can see stars—luminous, dancing stars, with my eyes closed; where I expect to see
an obsidian void, I see a symphony of colored spheres, or swirls surrounding a lustrous center. When the sun shines too brightly, I let my eyelids drop, little knowing that a harmony of glowing, amber hues await, a disorienting sight… Little knowing that I can never escape the light.

I see galaxies in the sparkling swirls—faintly glowing spirals against a darkened backdrop. Crimson clouds mingled with blue remind me of nebulae, as do green slashes overlapping with gold. Nomadic, spectral figurines—like canopies of astral dust, looming forward, their arms outstretched. I see the sun in golden globes, Saturn in miniature discs that envelope a revolving sphere, while the darkness gives way like a cloth so sheer.

The view when my eyes are open is commonplace; nothing captivating, alluring, romantic—trees are green, the sky is pale, the ground rough and coarse. But I can escape that… not by physically traveling, but by letting my mind, my imagination take over my path. By letting my eyelids fall, I am invulnerable—for I can visit the realms and territories beyond the skies. I can view the universe behind my eyes.

5. Vellichor: the strange wistfulness of used bookstores, which are somehow infused with the passage of time

A typewriter. Pieces of metal clink and clank. Triggering a lever, letting ink spill upon yellowed parchment. Violet blood oozes onto a page, fresh, aromatic. Authentic. Millennia away from the age of technology, mildly rusty. Out-of-place, alien in a modern house, with modern people attempting to placate bits that belong ages away.

Spirits rise from the crevices, fingertips that had touched the ancient keys. Silver mist sighs from the gaps created, as words float about, words that have been brought to life… because they have been recaptured. It's hard to remember something, some words, if you don't know they exist.

But now I know; I can feel its essence—ideas become tangible, something I can inhale, taste at the tip of my tongue, feel it whispering in my ear, dance before my eyes. Vellichor—the wistfulness of old bookstores. Right in my room. My heart kneels in humility, my mind gapes in awe.

Old authors wave at me. I smile and wave back. I'll never be one of you, I think. But at least I have your ideas hovering about, your words of encouragement. Your smiles. Goodbye...
... for now. Until I revisit your realm again.

4. Ambedo: a kind of melancholic trance in which you become completely absorbed in vivid sensory details

It is early morning. The sky is a mild pink, infused with trickles of gold that emerge from the horizon. The wispy clouds consume the sky, like feathers of silvery cotton. The streets are empty, and the silence paves way for the music of the birds. The air smells fresh, free of the columns of smoke that sully it during the day. The breeze is gentle and invigorating on my waking skin, ushering me into the realm of full consciousness. It is going to be a beautiful day.

It is nearing midnight. Stars are sprinkled across the sky, easily ignored in the presence of the full moon. My ears catch the hooting of a concealed owl and the muffled voices of neighbors. I smell the remnants of smoke. The air is still and warm on my features, slowly lulling me into sleep.

Without realizing it, most of us neglect the vibrant sensory details that bombard us. But they are omnipresent, ensuring that there is a sensory feast lingering at our fingertips. However, most of the time, we appreciate their presence when ensconced in melancholic ruminations. But then again, at least they are noticed from time to time. Ambedo.

3. Hiraeth: homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the lost or departed.

Memories slither back, soft, serpentining their way, insidious. Crawling into her mind as she rests on a strange, unfamiliar floor. Next to a dark, locked door, chained. Foreign trees grow on the other side, red and rosy, blooming in spirals, alien flowers of a midnight blue. A past can be broken down, but that takes years, centuries. A native bird's call can never disappear; it remains hidden, painfully shackled at the back of her mind.

Until she dreams of it, of that enchanting rhythm, its beautiful tone. It slinks, eerie, to a place she dreads, its tunes leading her from the fettered abodes, down the mud-caked roads, through the ravines of a past she seeks to forget. Going back in time, echoes, tides of lost voices spilling across, sidling back, sinister. Waves snake along, old voices, remembrances of old sights, of twinges of a gentle agony.

Her sleeping soul takes her back, to a place that closed its doors to her wistful, glassy eyes. To a realm of reminiscence, past an ocean of pain. Serpentining, the memory waltzes away, leaving an explicable ache when the sun shakes her shivering soul awake.

2. Sonder: the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own

As we walk on a crowded street, we sometimes believe that we are the only people with problems, concerns, and dilemmas we may never be able to resolve. Until we look at another person and see the worry lines etched on his face. Most of the time, we are entrenched in our own worlds… too entrenched to believe that there are billions of other worlds out there. Lives that are as cluttered and hectic as our own—although we are often oblivious to this eye-opening fact.

So, next time, look around yourself: at the boy with eyes swimming with tears, the little girl on the road begging for money, the woman whose face was pressed to the window of an expensive car, the man who was lying down on a tattered bench. Each one of them has a life as vibrant and convoluted as our own. We are surrounded by thousands upon thousands of different worlds… but each realm has largely opaque walls, keeping us rooted in the world we were born in. Sonder.

1. Moledro: a feeling of resonant connection with an author or artist you’ll never meet, who may have lived centuries ago and thousands of miles away but can still get inside your head

As the founder and editor-in-chief of Moledro Magazine, I find the word “Moledro” incredibly beautiful, as is its meaning.

When we look up at the sky, we are comforted—orbs of light shine back at us, lighting up our paths, letting us know that there is a heavenly guide blinking in the darkness. And yet, these glistening spheres are light-years away—it would take millennia to reach the nearest star, civilizations to round the galaxy. When confronted by the vastness of the universe, humanity is just a speck of dust, an insignificant iota of life and emotion.

Some people find inspiration in this observation; other find fear in it—in the fact that we’re all alone, suffocated by miles of vacuum and silence. In the fact that those twinkling beauties are lifeless, burning, faraway entities. So what we need—a connection: with an author or artist we’ll never meet, but whom we still admire and desire to connect with. And somehow, from this ardent desire stems something miles more powerful: a resonant connection that we discover when reading their works, or when gazing at their art. Even if they aren’t with us, they come alive through the masterpieces they’ve bestowed the earth with. Regardless of how endless the universe may seem, there’s always a way of establishing a resounding connection. Moledro.